Just 25 miles southwest of Portland, this serene woodland preserve is home to the state’s best example of a boreal pine barrens. Up to 90 feet of nutrient-poor sandy soils filter water into groundwater aquifers and pristine ponds, streams and bogs. The pitch pine and scrub oak community is adapted to thrive after periodic fires, which keep fire-intolerant trees and woody shrubs from taking over the barrens. The preserve was established in the early 1990’s when the Conservancy purchased the land from a developer who had planned a large recreational-residential complex.
Waterboro and Shapleigh, Maine
Dawn to Dusk
Trails are located on old woods roads and range from easy to moderately strenuous. Ticks are common, so please dress accordingly and check yourself after leaving the preserve.
To learn more about the logic behind these rules, please read our complete list of preserve use policies.
What You’ll See
The strange and beautiful forests of this preserve are primarily pitch pine and scrub oak underlain by lowbush blueberry and woodland sedge. As many as 11 species of rare butterflies and moths that feed on the barrens vegetation have been documented on the preserve, including the pine barrens buckmoth. Whip-poor-will and common nighthawk, both ground-nesting birds in decline throughout their range, nest in open areas within the pine barrens.
The topography of Waterboro Barrens originates from glacial outwash and features debris left behind by retreating glacial ice resulting in kettlehole heaths, hillsides covered in towering old-growth pitch pines, and moraines (glacial hills) covered in dense stands of scrub oak. There is also a leatherleaf bog, a small gorge, black spruce swamps, and miles of frontage on three ponds and the Little Ossipee River.
The Nature Conservancy has recently initiated a prescribed burning program at Waterboro Barrens as a management and restoration tool. Visitors may encounter recently burned areas that likely result from our management program. In addition, some areas have recently been thinned to reduce flammable fuels and provide firebreaks between the preserve and neighboring communities.
From Waterboro, take West Road 6 miles north to Ross Corner. Turn Right on Newfield Road and continue one mile to Lake Sherburne Road. Turn right and continue 0.8 miles to Bluff Brook Road. Turn left. The parking lot is on the left at the end of the road.